Key findings from the public comment period and changes made to the plan

Summary of the key findings from the final comment period

The county gathered public comments on the draft Zero Waste Plan from February 21 to March 20, 2023, through three methods: an online community feedback session, an online survey, and written comments. Key findings:

  • Survey respondents widely support the county’s zero-waste goal.
  • The majority of the feedback focused on closing the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC). Without a defined shutdown date for HERC, many respondents said they do not support the plan.
  • Actions in the plan with strong support included: education, reuse and repair, extended producer responsibility, single-use plastics ban and zero-waste packaging requirements, zero-waste infrastructure, such as an anaerobic digestion facility, and city-level actions, such as organized collection, and new drop-off collection options.
  • Actions that received mixed reactions: Mandates and mandated participation, financial incentives, recovering recyclable materials from the trash, and overall costs to implement the Zero Waste Plan.

Read more in the key findings of public comments on the draft Zero Waste Plan report (PDF) and the verbatim comments (PDF).

Changes to the Zero Waste Plan

The following changes were made to actions based on public feedback.

Provide more education

B.7 Expand reach of county waste education programming: Edits were made to provide additional context and specifics on campaign topics (food waste prevention and residential organics recycling) and tactics, including behavior change practices and youth education.

B.10 Added a new action: launch a broad consumer campaign on food waste prevention.

Provide more clarity on transition to organized collection

C.1 Support the transition to organized collection across the county: Edited the action to say the county will work with cities and haulers to define roles and responsibilities and to incorporate a reference to pay-as-you-throw incentives and expanding incentives to include reuse and hard-to-recycle items.

Expand advocacy for state laws that advance zero waste and materials circularity

C.18 Added a new action: Support changes to product stewardship for e-waste to cover collection and program costs and expand access to electronics recycling.

C.19 Added a new action: Reduce barriers for businesses to use refillable containers

C.20 Added a new action: Revise building codes and zoning ordinances that inhibit recycling

Put greater priority on reuse and repair

D.7 Support innovation on zero waste: This action was focused on developing innovation hubs, which bring together local entrepreneurs to incubate new ideas and activities that can lead to a more circular economy. This action was edited to:

  • Acknowledge and include support for existing reuse businesses and districts, such as the reuse retailers along Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis and salvage businesses in northeast Minneapolis.
  • Clarify the intent to address gaps in access to reuse infrastructure.
  • Include exploration of options to co-locate reuse, recycling, manufacturing, and retail businesses in a central facility or area, sometimes called a Resource Recovery Park.

Acknowledging HERC

There continues to be productive tensions around HERC and its role in the county's waste management system, and the county remains committed to continued conversations about HERC and its future. The plan continues to include the following two actions that were developed through the community engagement process with the action planning work groups. Further detail about the continued inclusion of these action in the Zero Waste Plan is provided below.

A.10 Establish milestones to phase out the use of the HERC as county approaches zero waste.

This action remains as it was proposed because establishing milestones or considering a target closure date requires a comprehensive analysis of the implications, followed by a deliberative decision-making process by county commissioners.

A.9 Evaluate HERC upgrades to reduce impacts on community in the short term

This action remains as proposed to preserve the opportunity for staff to recommend and the county board to approve short-term environmental and safety upgrades or improvements through the capital improvement process while HERC is operational.

Map to a zero-waste future

With these additions, the map to a zero-waste future was updated to reflect the county’s approach to implementing the plan. When successfully resourced and implemented, the plan is expected to achieve an 83% diversion rate.

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